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WO2016123332A1 - Fuel gas storage tank as air conditioner - Google Patents

Fuel gas storage tank as air conditioner

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Publication number
WO2016123332A1
WO2016123332A1 PCT/US2016/015349 US2016015349W WO2016123332A1 WO 2016123332 A1 WO2016123332 A1 WO 2016123332A1 US 2016015349 W US2016015349 W US 2016015349W WO 2016123332 A1 WO2016123332 A1 WO 2016123332A1
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
gas
fuel
storage
flow
tank
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2016/015349
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Joong-kyu LEE
Original Assignee
Alternative Fuel Containers, Llc
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

Links

Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60HARRANGEMENTS OR ADAPTATIONS OF HEATING, COOLING, VENTILATING, OR OTHER AIR-TREATING DEVICES SPECIALLY FOR PASSENGER OR GOODS SPACES OF VEHICLES
    • B60H1/00Heating, cooling or ventilating devices
    • B60H1/32Cooling devices
    • B60H1/3202Cooling devices using evaporation, i.e. not including a compressor, e.g. involving fuel or water evaporation
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60KARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PROPULSION UNITS OR OF TRANSMISSIONS IN VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PLURAL DIVERSE PRIME-MOVERS IN VEHICLES; AUXILIARY DRIVES FOR VEHICLES; INSTRUMENTATION OR DASHBOARDS FOR VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH COOLING, AIR INTAKE, GAS EXHAUST OR FUEL SUPPLY OF PROPULSION UNITS, IN VEHICLES
    • B60K15/00Arrangement in connection with fuel supply of combustion engines or other fuel consuming energy converters, e.g. fuel cells; Mounting or construction of fuel tanks
    • B60K15/03Fuel tanks
    • B60K15/03006Gas tanks
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60KARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PROPULSION UNITS OR OF TRANSMISSIONS IN VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENT OR MOUNTING OF PLURAL DIVERSE PRIME-MOVERS IN VEHICLES; AUXILIARY DRIVES FOR VEHICLES; INSTRUMENTATION OR DASHBOARDS FOR VEHICLES; ARRANGEMENTS IN CONNECTION WITH COOLING, AIR INTAKE, GAS EXHAUST OR FUEL SUPPLY OF PROPULSION UNITS, IN VEHICLES
    • B60K15/00Arrangement in connection with fuel supply of combustion engines or other fuel consuming energy converters, e.g. fuel cells; Mounting or construction of fuel tanks
    • B60K15/03Fuel tanks
    • B60K2015/03309Tanks specially adapted for particular fuels
    • B60K2015/03315Tanks specially adapted for particular fuels for hydrogen

Abstract

A cooling system for a motor vehicle and a method of introducing cooled air to a passenger compartment of the motor vehicle are disclosed. The cooling system and method involves releasing fuel gas stored in a solid state from a fuel gas storage material housed within a fuel gas storage tank, which is an endothermic process. A flow of fluid is directed from an interior of the fuel gas storage tank and into heat transfer communication with a stream of flowing air which, consequently, cools the stream of flowing air. After being cooled, the stream of flowing air is introduced into a passenger compartment of the motor vehicle.

Description

FUEL GAS STORAGE TANK AS AIR CONDITIONER

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/108,780 filed on January 28, 2015, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The technical field of this disclosure relates generally to vehicle cooling systems and, more specifically, to vehicle cooling systems for a motor vehicle that includes an on-board fuel gas storage tank. BACKGROUND

Motor vehicles include a fuel-consuming device that consumes fuel to generate the power needed to propel and operate the vehicle. Fuel gases, such as natural gas and hydrogen gas, are promising alternatives to the traditional petrol-based energy sources consumed by fuel-consuming devices. The consumption of such fuel gases generally produces less pollutants (e.g., through combustion, catalyzed oxidation, etc.) on a per unit basis than the combustion of traditional petroleum-based gasoline and diesel fuels and, thus, tends to be better for the environment. In order to hold a sufficient amount of fuel gas in an on-board storage tank at a reasonable pressure, and thus enable a driving distance comparable to traditional petroleum- based fuels, a fuel gas storage material may be contained within the tank to store fuel gas in a solid state. Such fuel gas storage materials can be charged with fuel gas through a variety of mechanisms (e.g., adsorption, chemical uptake, etc.) to facilitate solid state fuel gas storage.

Natural gas can be stored in a solid state by way of adsorption onto a natural gas storage material (ANG storage material). The natural gas storage material increases the volumetric and gravimetric energy density of the fuel gas within the available tank space such that it compares favorably to compressed natural gas but at a much lower pressure of 60 bar or less. Several different kinds of natural gas storage materials are known including activated carbon and, more recently, metal-organic- frameworks (MOFs) and porous polymer networks (PPNs) that have an affinity for natural gas. Many different types of MOFs and PPNs that are able to reversibly adsorb natural gas are commercially available in the marketplace and newly-identified MOFs and PPNs are constantly being researched and developed in order to enhance gas storage capacity as well as charging/release kinetics.

Hydrogen gas can be stored in a solid state by way of chemical uptake or adsorption onto a hydrogen storage material. The hydrogen storage material— like before with the ANG storage material— increases the volumetric and gravimetric energy density of the fuel gas within the available tank space such that it compares favorably to compressed hydrogen gas but at much lower pressure of 100 bar or less. Materials that can store hydrogen gas through chemical uptake include any of a wide range of metal hydrides and complex metal hydrides. Materials that can adsorptively store hydrogen gas include MOFs and PPNs that have an affinity for hydrogen gas. Indeed, like before with ANG storage materials, there is a wide variety of hydrogen storage materials that are commercially available in the marketplace, and many others are constantly being researched and developed in an effort to improve hydrogen gas storage capacity and charging/release kinetic behavior. The solid state storage of natural gas and the solid state storage of hydrogen gas share similar thermodynamics. In particular, charging each of those fuel gases into an appropriate fuel gas storage material is an exothermic process while, conversely, releasing each of those fuel gases from a fuel gas storage material is an endothermic process. Thus, during driving, when fuel gas is being released from the fuel gas storage material and supplied to a fuel-consuming device, such as an internal combustion engine or a fuel cell or some other device, the ongoing endothermic process occurring within the fuel gas storage tank causes heat to be absorbed from the surrounding area. The colder environment inside the fuel gas storage tank may, in some instances, be useful in other areas of the vehicle where cooling is desired, most notably in the passenger compartment. Such a contribution to vehicle cooling may reduce the demand on the conventional vehicle air conditioner and result in more fuel -efficient operation of the vehicle.

SUMMARY

A cooling system for a motor vehicle and a method of introducing cooled air to a passenger compartment of the motor vehicle are disclosed. The cooling system and method of introducing cooled air to the passenger compartment take advantage of the fact that releasing fuel gas from solid state storage in a fuel gas storage material housed within a fuel gas storage tank is an endothermic process. The release of fuel gas from the fuel gas storage material thus absorbs heat from within an interior of the fuel gas storage tank to create a cooled environment. To make use of this cooled environment, a flow of fluid is directed from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank and brought into heat transfer communication with a stream of flowing air that is being introduced into the passenger compartment of the vehicle. The stream of flowing air is cooled by the flow of fluid arriving from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank and, as such, cools or at least helps cool the passenger compartment.

The cooling system may be constructed in a variety of ways to cool the stream of flowing air with the flow of fluid leaving the interior of the fuel gas storage tank. The cooling system may, for instance, employ a duct to deliver the flow of fluid from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank to the passenger compartment in order to achieve heat transfer communication between the flow of fluid and the stream of flowing air. The duct delivers the flow of fluid to the passenger compartment by being routed within the vehicle in a way that locates a portion of the duct in close enough proximity to the passenger compartment that the portion of the duct can be accessed by the stream of flowing air generated by an air flow device situated behind the passenger compartment. Other system components may be used in conjunction with the duct to deliver the flow of fluid in a controlled manner. These additional system components may include valves, pumps, control equipment, and other components typically used to manage fluid flow within a system.

In one embodiment, the cooling system includes a cooling circuit, and the flow of fluid that is delivered from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank is a flow of cooling fluid such as, for example, a heat transfer oil. The cooling circuit includes a coolant duct that circulates the cooling fluid from a coolant inlet of the fuel gas storage tank to a coolant outlet of the fuel gas storage tank. Along the way, a portion of the coolant duct brings the flow of cooling fluid into heat transfer communication with the stream of flowing air. In another embodiment, the cooling system includes a fuel gas feed line, and the flow of fluid that is delivered from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank is a flow of cooled fuel gas. The fuel gas feed line includes a fuel gas delivery duct that transports fuel gas away from the fuel gas storage tank and delivers it to a fuel-gas consuming device or some other auxiliary device for consumption. Along the way, a portion of the fuel gas delivery duct brings the flow of fuel gas into heat transfer communication with the stream of flowing air.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 is a schematic diagram showing a fuel gas storage tank that is constructed to provide cool air to a passenger compartment of a motor vehicle to supplement or replace a conventional vehicle air conditioner according to one embodiment of the disclosure; and

Figure 2 is another schematic diagram showing a fuel gas storage tank that is constructed to provide cool air to a passenger compartment of a motor vehicle to supplement or replace a conventional vehicle air conditioner according to another embodiment of the disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A vehicle cooling system that can provide cool air to a passenger compartment of a motor vehicle during the time that fuel gas (e.g., natural gas or hydrogen gas) is being released from a fuel gas storage material housed within an interior of a fuel gas storage tank is disclosed along with an associated method. The disclosed cooling system and method take advantage of the fact that releasing fuel gas from solid state storage in the fuel gas material is an endothermic process that absorbs heat from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank. The cooled environment that results within the interior of the fuel gas storage tank can be used to cool the passenger compartment and reduce or altogether eliminate the need for a conventional air conditioner that includes a high-pressure side and a low-pressure side along with, among other components, a compressor, a condenser, and an evaporator. To accomplish this objective, a duct is employed to deliver a flow of fluid from inside the interior of the fuel gas storage tank and to bring the flow of fluid into heat exchange communication with a stream of flowing air being introduced into the passenger compartment. Figures 1 and 2 illustrate preferred embodiments of the vehicle cooling system and related method for introducing cooled air to the passenger compartment of the vehicle. Figure 1 employs a cooling circuit that circulates a cooling fluid between the fuel gas storage tank and the passenger compartment. In that embodiment, the cooling fluid functions as a heat transfer medium that sinks heat into the fuel gas storage tank while fuel gas is being released from the fuel gas storage material, and then facilitates the delivery of cold air into the passenger compartment. In a somewhat different embodiment, Figure 2 employs a fuel gas feed line that routes released fuel gas to the passenger compartment before delivering the fuel gas to its end destination. The released fuel gas, which is relatively cool due to the endothermic nature of its release from the fuel gas storage material, facilitates the delivery of cold air into the passenger compartment. The embodiments of Figures 1 and 2 will now be described below in greater detail below.

Figure 1 schematically illustrates a vehicle cooling system 10 that can be implemented in any type of motor vehicle such as, for example, a car, truck, or bus, to name but a few. The vehicle cooling system 10 includes a fuel gas storage tank 12 and a cooling circuit 14 that circulates a cooling fluid between the tank 12 and a passenger compartment 16 of the vehicle. When operating, the vehicle cooling system 10 can deliver cold air to the passenger compartment 16, which in turn may lessen the demand on the conventional factory-installed vehicle air conditioner (not shown). The vehicle cooling system 10 may, thus, allow for a reduction in the size and/or cooling capacity of the conventional air conditioner or completely obviate the need for a conventional air conditioner, thereby leading to improved energy and fuel efficiency within the vehicle. And it can do so without adding additional volume to the vehicle platform. This is because the fuel gas storage tank 12 is needed on the vehicle anyway to store and provide the fuel gas that ultimately allows a fuel-consuming device 18 to power and propel the vehicle.

The fuel gas storage tank 12 is constructed to store fuel gas— such as natural gas or hydrogen gas— in a solid state. Natural gas is a fuel gas whose largest gaseous constituent is methane (CH4). The preferred type of natural gas that is held in the fuel gas storage tank 12 is refined natural gas that includes 90 wt% or greater, and preferably 95 wt% or greater, methane. The other 5 wt% or less may include varying amounts of natural impurities— such as other higher-molecular weight alkanes, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen— and/or added impurities. Hydrogen gas is also a well known fuel gas having the chemical formula H2. In many instances, the hydrogen gas that is stored in the fuel gas storage tank has a purity of at least 99.0 wt% H2. The fuel gas storage tank 12 is supported on a chassis of the vehicle and is constructed to supply fuel gas as needed to operate the fuel-consuming device 18. The fuel-consuming device 18 may, for example, be an internal combustion engine, a fuel cell, or any other type of device that can generate power by either directly or indirectly consuming the fuel gas.

The fuel gas storage tank 12 includes a shell 20, which defines an interior 22 of the tank 12, and a fuel gas storage material 24 housed within the tank interior 22. The shell 20 may be formed of a metal, such as stainless steel or an aluminum alloy, or a non-metallic material, such as carbon-reinforced nylon, or some other material of suitable strength and durability. A few particularly preferred materials that may be used to construct the shell 20 include SUS304 grade stainless steel or AA5083-0 aluminum alloy. The shell 20 may assume any size, shape, and contour demanded by the packing requirements of the motor vehicle or other controlling factor(s). Additionally, the shell 20 may include provisions that enable it to assume shapes other than the spherical and cylindrical shapes that have traditionally been employed for the storage of fuel gasses. Indeed, the shell 20, if desired, may assume a three-dimensional shape that includes planar walls or planar wall portions as disclosed in International patent application publications WO2015/065984 and WO2015/171795, the entire contents of each of those publications being incorporated herein by reference. The fuel gas storage tank 12 also includes one or more fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 and one or more coolant flow guides 28. The fuel gas permeable flow guide(s) 26 and the coolant flow guide(s) 28 are disposed within the tank interior 22 and extend through the fuel gas storage material 24. The fuel gas permeable flow guide(s) 26 transport fuel gas into and out of the fuel gas storage material 24 depending on whether fuel gas is being added to or removed from the fuel gas storage tank 12. The permeability of the flow guide(s) 26 means that fuel gas can diffuse from inside an internal passageway 30 of the flow guide(s) 26 to outside of the flow guides(s) 26 and into contact with the fuel gas storage material 24 in the tank interior 22, and vice versa. The coolant flow guide(s) 28, on the other hand, transport a cooling fluid within and through the tank interior 22 without exposing the cooling fluid to the fuel gas storage material 24. The coolant flow guide(s) 28 define a contained passageway 32 that does not permit fuel gas to be exchanged between the contained passageway 32 and the tank interior 22 and it certainly does not permit the cooling fluid to escape into the tank interior 22. The cooling fluid that runs through the coolant flow guide(s) 28 is preferably a heat exchange oil such as, for example, a paraffin-based mineral oil.

The fuel gas storage material 24 is contained within the tank interior 22 in the available space outside of the fuel gas permeable flow guide(s) 26 and the coolant flow guide(s) 28. The fuel gas storage material 24 comprises any material that is capable of reversibly storing the desired fuel gas in a solid state through any storage mechanism (e.g., adsorption, chemical uptake, etc.). Natural gas and hydrogen gas are two notable types of fuel gas that may be stored in a solid state. The fuel gas storage material 24 may, accordingly, be an ANG storage material if the fuel gas is natural gas or a hydrogen storage material if the fuel gas is hydrogen gas. An ANG storage material and a hydrogen storage material may be incorporated into the tank interior 22 in any suitable physical structure including granules, pellets, and/or powder, to name but a few options. Moreover, as previously discussed, the release of natural gas and hydrogen gas from an ANG storage material and a hydrogen storage material, respectively, when needed to operate the fuel-consuming device 18 is an endothermic process.

An ANG storage material (for storing natural gas) may be an adsorbent material that stores natural gas by way of adsorption, and it preferably increases the volumetric and gravimetric energy density of the fuel gas within the tank interior 22 such that it compares favorably to compressed natural gas but at a much lower pressure of 60 bar or less. Some specific examples of materials that may constitute some or all of the ANG storage material are activated carbon, a metal -organic- framework (MOF), or a porous polymer network (PPN). Activated carbon is a carbonaceous substance, typically charcoal, that has been "activated" by known physical or chemical techniques to increase its porosity and surface area. A metal-organic-framework is a high surface area coordination polymer having an inorganic-organic framework, often a three-dimensional network, that includes metal ions (or clusters) bound by organic ligands. A porous polymer network is a covalently-bonded organic or organic-inorganic interpenetrating polymer network that, like MOFs, provides a porous and typically three-dimensional molecular structure.

Any of a wide variety of MOFs and PPNs may be used as some or all of the ANG storage material. Some notable MOFs and PPNs that may be used in the ANG storage material are disclosed in R.J. Kuppler et al., Potential applications of metal-organic frameworks, Coordination Chemistry Reviews 253 (2009) pp.3042-66, D. Yuan et al., Highly Stable Porous Polymer Networks with Exceptionally High Gas-Uptake Capacities, Adv. Mater. 2011, vol. 23 pp. 3723-25, W. Lu et al., Porous Polymer Networks: Synthesis, Porosity, and Applications in Gas Storage/Separation, Chem. Mater. 2010, 22, 5964-72, and H. Wu et al., Metal-Organic Frameworks with Exceptionally High Methane Uptake: Where and How Methane is Stored?, Chem. Eur. J. 2010, 16, 5205-14. Of course, a wide variety of MOFs and PPNs that can adsorptively store natural gas (and other fuel gases) are commercially available, and many others are constantly being researched, developed, and brought to market.

A hydrogen storage material (for storing hydrogen gas) may, in one instance, have the ability to reversibly store hydrogen gas as a hydride through chemical uptake. The hydrogen storage material— like before with the ANG storage material— preferably increases the volumetric and gravimetric energy density of the gas within the tank interior 22 such that it compares favorably to compressed hydrogen gas but at a much lower pressure of 100 bar or less. Materials that can store hydrogen gas through chemical uptake include metal hydrides and complex metal hydrides. One specific example of a suitable metal hydride is lithium hydride (LH). Complex metal hydrides may include various known alanates and amides. Some specific complex metal hydrides include sodium alanate (NaAlH4), lithium alanate (LiAlH4), magnesium nickel hydride (Mg2NiH4), and lithium amide (LiNH2). Moreover, in addition to those hydrogen storage materials that rely on chemical uptake to store hydrogen gas as a hydride, other materials exist that can adsorptively store hydrogen gas including MOFs and PPNs that have an affinity for hydrogen gas. For example, some of the MOFs and PPNs referenced in the above literature may be used for adsorptive hydrogen gas storage.

The one or more fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 and the one or more coolant flow guides 28 can be constructed in any way that achieves their desired function. Indeed, each of the single flow guides 26, 28 depicted in Figure 1 is intended to also represent multiple fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 and multiple coolant flow guides 28, respectively, which are disposed throughout the tank interior 22 for good exposure to all portions of the fuel gas storage material 24. Thus, the single fuel gas permeable flow guide 26 depicted in Figure 1 is intended to represent any arrangement of one or more fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 that is able to exchange fuel gas with the fuel gas storage material 24 in the tank interior 22, while the single coolant flow guide 28 depicted in Figure 1 is intended to represent any arrangement of one or more coolant flow guides 28 that is able to transfer heat between the cooling fluid flowing through the contained passageway 32 of the flow guide(s) 28 and the tank interior 22 without releasing any cooling fluid into the tank interior 22 where it may come into contact with the fuel gas storage material 24. The one or more coolant flow guides 28 may be constructed from any thermally conductive material including copper, a copper alloy, or an aluminum alloy.

Two particular arrangements of the one or more fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 are preferred within the tank interior 22 of the fuel gas storage tank 12. In one embodiment, the one or more fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 includes a plurality of flow guides 26 that extend through the tank interior 22 in multiple directions. These fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 may be coupled to opposite portions of the shell 20 to structurally reinforce the shell 20 against elevated pressures that may transpire in the tank interior 22, and may further be fluidly connected external to the shell 20 by a plurality of solid fuel gas connection guides (not shown).

The plurality of fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 together with their solid fuel gas connection guides define a continuous fuel gas transportation conduit that transports fuel gas between a fuel gas inlet 46 and a fuel gas outlet 48 of the fuel gas storage tank 12 while routing the fuel gas back-and-forth through the tank interior 22 for good exposure to all parts of the fuel gas storage material 24. A more complete description of this arrangement of the one or more fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 is disclosed in International patent application publication WO2015/065984. And, as stated above, the entire disclosure of the WO2015/065984 publication is incorporated herein by reference.

In another embodiment, the one or more fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 includes a first set of fuel gas permeable flow guides 26, which fluidly communicate with the fuel gas inlet 46, and a second set of fuel gas permeable flow guides 26, which fluidly communicate with the fuel gas outlet 48. The first and second sets of fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 are not directly connected to each other but are nonetheless able to exchange fuel gas despite the lack of a continuous conduit. Specifically, fuel gas can diffuse between the two sets of fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 through the interstitial spaces (capillary system) of the fuel gas storage material 24 and/or through the internal pore system of the fuel gas storage material 24. The first set of fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 and/or the second set of fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 may also be coupled to opposite portions of the shell 20 to structurally reinforce the shell 20 against elevated pressures that may transpire in the tank interior 22. A more complete description of this arrangement of the one or more fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 is disclosed in International patent application publication WO2015/171795. And, as stated above, the entire disclosure of the WO2015/171795 publication is incorporated herein by reference. The one or more coolant flow guides 28 may be in any arrangement that transports the cooling fluid between a coolant inlet 34 and a coolant outlet 36 of the fuel gas storage tank 12. For example, the one or more coolant flow guides 28 may be a single coolant flow guide 28 that is coiled or wound within the tank interior 22 so that the contained passageway 32 provides a continuous coolant flow conduit between the coolant inlet 34 and the coolant outlet 36 that is entirely enclosed within the tank interior 22 by the shell 20. Keeping the entire coolant flow conduit contained within the tank interior 22 may be helpful in promoting efficiency of the vehicle cooling system 10 by minimizing unintended heat transfer between the cooling fluid and the environment outside of the shell 20. Provisions to support the single coolant flow guide 28 within the tank interior 22 may be integrated into the shell 20 in any of a wide variety of ways. In another embodiment, the one or more coolant flow guides 28 may include a plurality of coolant flow guides 28 that extend through the tank interior 22 in multiple directions in the same manner as the arrangement of the fuel gas permeable flow guides 26 described above. In this scenario, the coolant flow guides 28 may be coupled to opposite portions of the shell 20 to structurally reinforce the shell 20 against elevated pressures that may transpire in the tank interior 22, and may further be fluidly connected external to the shell 20 by a plurality of solid fuel gas connection guides (shown in the embodiment of Figure 2). When solid fuel gas connection guides are employed external to the shell 20, a continuous coolant flow conduit comprised of the passageways 32 of the coolant flow guides 28 and the passageways of the coolant connection guides is established. Such a conduit transports the cooling fluid between the coolant inlet 34 and the coolant outlet 36 while routing the cooling fluid back-and-forth through the tank interior 22.

The cooling circuit 14 circulates the cooling fluid between the fuel gas storage tank 12 and the passenger compartment 16 of the vehicle. As shown in Figure 1, the cooling circuit 14 includes a coolant duct 38, a pump 40, and a valve 42. The coolant duct 38 fluidly connects the coolant inlet 34 and the coolant outlet 36 of the fuel gas storage tank 12 and is configured to bring the passing cooling fluid into heat exchange communication with a stream of flowing air 50 created by an air flow device 52, such as a fan, located behind the dashboard of the passenger compartment 16. Preferably, as shown here, the requisite heat exchange communication is attained by locating a portion 44 of the coolant duct 38 within the path of the stream of flowing air 50. In this way, the stream of flowing air 50 can pass over and around the portion 44 of the duct 38 and be cooled down before being introduced into the passenger compartment 16 and reaching the vehicle occupants. The portion 44 of the coolant duct 38 that interferes with the stream of flowing air 50 is preferably coiled in order to maximize the surface area across which heat transfer can occur. Moreover, in typical fashion, the pump 40 and the valve 42 may be controlled to manage the flow of the cooling fluid through the fuel gas storage tank 12 and the coolant duct 38.

Operation of the vehicle cooling system 10 typically occurs when fuel gas is being removed from the fuel gas storage tank 12 to support operation of the fuel-consuming device 18. The fuel gas removed from the fuel gas storage tank 12 may be consumed directly by the fuel-consuming device 18 or it may be consumed in an auxiliary process (e.g., POX) to ultimately produce whatever fuel is consumed directly by the fuel-consuming device 18. The release of fuel gas from solid state storage within the fuel gas storage material 24 is an endothermic process that absorbs surrounding heat from the tank interior 22. To take advantage of such a heat sink, the valve 42 is opened and the pump 40, if needed, is turned on to deliver a flow of the cooling fluid through the coolant duct 38 and into the coolant inlet 34 of the fuel gas storage tank 12. The flow of cooling fluid then travels through the coolant flow conduit provided at least in part by the one or more coolant flow guides 28 and eventually exits the fuel gas storage tank 12 at the coolant outlet 36. Upon exiting the coolant outlet 36, the flow of cooling fluid has a lower temperature than it did when entering the fuel gas storage tank 12 at the coolant inlet 34 due to a loss of heat to the tank interior 22 as driven by the endothermic release of fuel gas from the fuel gas storage material 24. After being cooled within the tank interior 22, the flow of cooling fluid re-enters and continues to travel through the coolant duct 38 towards the passenger compartment 16. Eventually, the flow of coolant fluid passes through the portion 44 of the duct 38 that brings the cooling fluid into heat transfer communication with the stream of flowing air 50 produced by the air flow device 52 (e.g., a fan) located behind the dashboard. In a preferred implementation, as mentioned before, the requisite heat transfer between the cooling fluid and the stream of flowing air 50 is accomplished by passing the stream of flowing air 50 over and around the portion 44 of the coolant duct 38 that is located and designed for such heat transfer. The stream of flowing air 50 is immediately cooled and introduced into the passenger compartment 16. This results in the dispersion of cooled air throughout the passenger compartment 16 and, over time, a lowering of the ambient temperature of the passenger compartment 16 at least to some extent. After the cooling fluid passes through the portion 44 of the coolant duct 38, where it gains heat from the stream of overflowing air 50, the cooling fluid continues navigating through the coolant duct 38 until it re-enters the fuel storage tank 12 at the coolant opening 34. The cooling fluid can circulate between the fuel gas storage tank 12 and the passenger compartment 16 for some time to continue providing cooled air to the passenger compartment 16. Referring now to Figure 2, a vehicle cooling system 110 is shown that includes a fuel gas feed line 160 in lieu of the cooling circuit 14. In this embodiment, like numbers are used to identify like elements and to further indicate that the description in the earlier embodiment of Figure 1 is also applicable to the present embodiment and, as such, only notable differences will be further described in Figure 2. In particular, here, the vehicle cooling system 110 includes a fuel gas storage tank 112 constructed similarly to the fuel gas storage tank 12 described in the earlier embodiment in that it includes a fuel gas storage material 124 and one or more fuel gas permeable flow guides 126 disposed within an interior 122 of the tank 112. In the illustrated embodiment, however, the fuel gas storage tank 112 does not include one or more coolant flow guides (reference numeral 28 in Figure 1) or the rest of the cooling circuit (reference numeral 14 in Figure 1) due to the presence and function of the fuel gas feed line 160. Of course, if desired, the fuel gas feed line 160 and the cooling circuit 14 may be used in conjunction with one another, despite not being expressly illustrated in the Figures.

The fuel gas feed line 160 is configured to direct a flow of fuel gas from the tank interior 122 away from the fuel gas storage tank 112 and into heat exchange communication with a stream of flowing air 150 before delivering the flow of fuel gas to a fuel-consuming device 118 or other auxiliary device for consumption. The fuel gas removed from the fuel gas storage tank 112 is cooled since, as described above, the release of the fuel gas from solid state storage within the fuel gas storage material 124 is an endothermic process that absorbs heat from the tank interior 122. The fuel gas feed line 160 fluidly communicates with a fuel gas cooling outlet 170 of the fuel gas storage tank 112 and, as shown, comprises a fuel gas delivery duct 162, a valve 164, and a pump 166. The fuel gas feed line 160 provides a cooling effect to a passenger compartment 116 in a slightly different manner than the cooling circuit 14 of Figure 1. Moreover, while not depicted here, at least one additional fuel gas feed line may be included in the vehicle cooling system 110 to enhance the cooling effect provided to the passenger compartment 116, if desired. The fuel gas delivery duct 162 is fluidly connected to the one or more fuel gas permeable flow guides 126 disposed within the tank interior 122 by way of the fuel gas cooling outlet 170. The fuel gas delivery duct 162 provides a contained conduit that transports the flow of fuel gas away from the fuel gas storage tank 112 and delivers the fuel gas to a destination involved in powering the motor vehicle such as, for example, the fuel-consuming device 118, as shown here. Additionally, like before in the embodiment of Figure 1, a portion 168 of the fuel gas delivery duct 162 is located within the path of the stream of flowing air 150, which is generated by an air flow device 152, to achieve heat exchange communication between the flow of cooled fuel gas passing through the portion 168 of the duct 162 and the stream of flowing air 150. As a result, the stream of flowing air 150 can pass over and around the portion 168 of the fuel gas delivery duct 162 and be cooled down before being introduced into the passenger compartment 116 and reaching the vehicle occupants. And, to maximize the surface area across which heat transfer can occur, the portion 168 of the fuel gas delivery duct 162 that interferes with the stream of flowing air 150 is preferably coiled. The flow of released fuel gas through the fuel gas delivery duct 162 is controlled by operating of the valve 164 and the pump 166. Operation of the cooling system 110, like before, typically occurs when fuel gas is being removed from the fuel gas storage tank 112 to support operation of the fuel-consuming device 118. During this time, fuel gas is being released by the fuel gas storage material 124, which is an endothermic process that absorbs surrounding heat from the tank interior 122. The released fuel gas is therefore relatively cool as it enters the fuel gas delivery duct 162 through the fuel gas cooling outlet 170 upon opening of the valve 164 and operation of the pump 166. To take advantage of its cooled nature, the flow of fuel gas is directed through the fuel gas delivery duct 162 including the portion 168 that brings the cooled fuel gas into heat transfer communication with the stream of flowing air 150 produced by the air flow device 152 (e.g., a fan) located behind the dashboard. In a preferred implementation, the requisite heat transfer between the flow of cooled fuel gas and the stream of flowing air 150 is accomplished by passing the stream of flowing air 150 over and around the portion 168 of the fuel gas delivery duct 162 that is located and designed for such heat transfer. The stream of flowing air 150 that is immediately cooled by the flow of cooled fuel gas in the portion 168 of the fuel gas delivery duct 162 is introduced into the passenger compartment 116. This results in the dispersion of cooled air throughout the passenger compartment 116 and, over time, a lowering of the ambient temperature of the passenger compartment 116 at least to some extent, much like the previous embodiment. After the flow of cooled fuel gas passes through the portion 168 of the fuel gas delivery duct 162, where it gains heat from the stream of overflowing air 150, the flow of fuel gas continues navigating through the fuel gas delivery duct 162 and is eventually delivered to the fuel-consuming device 118 or elsewhere for consumption. The fuel gas feed line 160 can direct the flow of cooled fuel gas from the fuel gas storage tank 112 to the passenger compartment 116 for some time to continue providing cooled air to the passenger compartment 116.

The above description of preferred exemplary embodiments and related examples are merely descriptive in nature; they are not intended to limit the scope of the invention as defined by the claims that follow. Each of the terms used in the appended claims should be given its ordinary and customary meaning as understood by a person of skill in the art unless specifically and unambiguously stated otherwise in the specification.

Claims

1. A method of introducing cooled air into a passenger compartment of a motor vehicle, the method comprising:
operating a fuel-consuming device installed on a motor vehicle, wherein operation of the fuel-consuming device is supported by consumption of a fuel gas stored within an interior of a fuel gas storage tank that is also installed on the motor vehicle;
releasing fuel gas stored in a solid state within a fuel gas storage material housed within the fuel gas storage tank, the releasing of fuel gas from the fuel gas storage material being an endothermic process that absorbs heat from within the interior of the fuel gas storage tank;
directing a flow of fluid from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank and into heat transfer communication with a stream of flowing air so as to cool the stream of flowing air; and
introducing the stream of flowing air into a passenger compartment of the motor vehicle after the stream of flowing air has been cooled by the flow of fluid arriving from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank, the stream of flowing air being operable to cool the passenger compartment upon being introduced into the passenger compartment.
2. The method set forth in claim 1, wherein the fuel gas stored in the fuel gas storage tank is natural gas, and wherein the fuel gas storage material is a natural gas storage material that stores natural gas through adsorption.
3. The method set forth in claim 2, wherein the fuel gas storage material comprises at least one of activated carbon, a metal-organic-framework, or a porous polymer network.
4. The method set forth in claim 1, wherein the fuel gas stored in the fuel gas storage tank is hydrogen gas, and wherein the fuel gas storage material is a hydrogen gas storage material that stores hydrogen gas through adsorption or chemical uptake.
5. The method set forth in claim 4, wherein the fuel gas storage material comprises at least one of a metal hydride, a complex metal hydride, a metal- organic-framework, or a porous polymer network.
6. The method set forth in claim 1, wherein the flow of fluid from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank is a flow of cooling fluid that circulates from an arrangement of one or more coolant flow guides located within the interior of the fuel gas storage tank, through a coolant duct, and back to the arrangement of one or more coolant flow guides located within the interior of the fuel gas storage tank, and wherein a portion of the coolant duct is in heat transfer communication with the stream of flowing air.
7. The method set forth in claim 6, wherein the flow of cooling fluid enters the arrangement of one or more coolant flow guides through a coolant inlet of the fuel gas storage tank and exits the arrangement of one or more coolant flow guides through a coolant outlet of the fuel gas storage tank, and wherein a temperature of the flow of cooling fluid is lower at the coolant outlet than at the coolant inlet.
8. The method set forth in claim 7, wherein the arrangement of one or more coolant flow guides extends through the fuel gas storage material housed within the interior of the fuel gas storage tank and defines a contained passageway through which the flow of cooling fluid can travel between the coolant inlet and the coolant outlet.
9. The method set forth in claim 6, wherein the cooling fluid is a heat transfer oil.
10. The method set forth in claim 1, wherein the flow of fluid from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank is a flow of fuel gas that is directed from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank through a fuel gas delivery duct of a fuel gas feed line, and wherein a portion of the fuel gas delivery duct is in heat transfer communication with the stream of flowing air.
11. The method set forth in claim 10, wherein the fuel gas delivery duct fluidly communicates with one or more fuel gas permeable flow guides, the one or more fuel gas permeable flow guides being located within the interior of the fuel gas storage tank and extending through the fuel gas storage material.
12. A method of introducing cooled air into a passenger compartment of a motor vehicle, the method comprising:
releasing fuel gas stored in a solid state within a fuel gas storage material housed within a fuel gas storage tank installed on a motor vehicle in order to make the fuel gas available for consumption to operate a fuel-consuming device, the releasing of the fuel gas from the fuel gas storage material being an endothermic process that absorbs heat from within an interior of the fuel gas storage tank, and wherein the fuel gas stored in a solid state within the fuel gas storage material natural gas or hydrogen gas;
directing a flow of fluid from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank and bringing the flow of fluid into heat transfer communication with a stream of flowing air so as to cool the stream of flowing air; and
introducing the stream of flowing air into the passenger compartment of the motor vehicle after the stream of flowing air has been cooled by the flow of fluid arriving from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank.
13. The method set forth in claim 12, wherein the fuel gas stored in a solid state within the fuel gas storage material is natural gas, and wherein the fuel gas storage material comprises at least one of activated carbon, a metal-organic-framework, or a porous polymer network.
14. The method set forth in claim 12, wherein the flow of fluid from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank is a flow of cooling fluid that circulates from an arrangement of one or more coolant flow guides located within the interior of the fuel gas storage tank, through a coolant duct, and back to the arrangement of one or more coolant flow guides located within the interior of the fuel gas storage tank, and wherein a portion of the coolant duct is in heat transfer communication with the stream of flowing air.
15. The method set forth in claim 14, wherein the flow of cooling fluid enters the arrangement of one or more coolant flow guides through a coolant inlet of the fuel gas storage tank and exits the arrangement of one or more coolant flow guides through a coolant outlet of the fuel gas storage tank, and wherein a temperature of the flow of cooling fluid is lower at the coolant outlet than at the coolant inlet.
16. The method set forth in claim 12, wherein the flow of fluid from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank is a flow of fuel gas that is directed from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank through a fuel gas delivery duct of a fuel gas feed line, and wherein a portion of the fuel gas delivery duct is in heat transfer communication with the stream of flowing air.
17. The method set forth in claim 16, wherein the fuel gas delivery duct fluidly communicates with one or more fuel gas permeable flow guides, the one or more fuel gas permeable flow guides being located within the interior of the fuel gas storage tank and extending through the fuel gas storage material.
18. A vehicle cooling system for introducing cooled air into a passenger compartment of a motor vehicle, the system comprising:
a fuel gas storage tank that includes a fuel gas storage material housed within an interior of the fuel gas storage tank, the fuel gas storage material storing fuel gas in a solid state, and wherein the fuel gas stored within the fuel gas storage material in a solid state is natural gas or hydrogen gas;
a duct that delivers a flow of fluid from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank to a passenger compartment of the motor vehicle; and
an air flow device configured to direct a stream of flowing air across a portion of the duct and then into the passenger compartment of the motor vehicle, the stream of flowing air being cooled by the flow of fluid in the duct when the stream of flowing air moves across the duct and the flow of fluid is passing through the duct so as to bring the stream of flowing air and the flow of fluid into heat exchange communication.
19. The vehicle cooling system set forth in claim 18, wherein the duct is a coolant duct that circulates a flow of cooling fluid from an outlet of an arrangement of one or more coolant flow guides located within the interior of the fuel gas storage tank, to the passenger compartment where a portion the coolant duct is in heat transfer communication with the stream of flowing air, and back to an inlet of the arrangement of one or more coolant flow guides located within the interior of the fuel gas storage tank.
20. The vehicle cooling system set forth in claim 18, wherein the duct is a fuel gas delivery duct of a fuel gas feed line that directs a flow of fuel gas from the interior of the fuel gas storage tank and away from the fuel gas storage tank, and wherein a portion of the fuel gas delivery duct is in heat transfer communication with the stream of flowing air.
PCT/US2016/015349 2015-01-28 2016-01-28 Fuel gas storage tank as air conditioner WO2016123332A1 (en)

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Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US4441326A (en) * 1980-12-13 1984-04-10 Daimler-Benz Aktiengesellschaft Process for cooling the passenger compartments of vehicles with hydrogen-consuming engines by mechanical refrigerating procedure
US6432379B1 (en) * 1996-04-01 2002-08-13 Westinghouse Savannah River Company Apparatus and methods for storing and releasing hydrogen
US20090127137A1 (en) * 2006-04-28 2009-05-21 Daniel Golz Hydrogen reservoir and process for filling a hydrogen reservoir
US20100006454A1 (en) * 2006-05-04 2010-01-14 Werner Gruenwald Gas absorption reservoir with optimized cooling
US20140138452A1 (en) * 2012-11-20 2014-05-22 GM Global Technology Operations LLC System And Method For Heating The Passenger Compartment Of A Fuell Cell-Powered Vehicle

Patent Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US4441326A (en) * 1980-12-13 1984-04-10 Daimler-Benz Aktiengesellschaft Process for cooling the passenger compartments of vehicles with hydrogen-consuming engines by mechanical refrigerating procedure
US6432379B1 (en) * 1996-04-01 2002-08-13 Westinghouse Savannah River Company Apparatus and methods for storing and releasing hydrogen
US20090127137A1 (en) * 2006-04-28 2009-05-21 Daniel Golz Hydrogen reservoir and process for filling a hydrogen reservoir
US20100006454A1 (en) * 2006-05-04 2010-01-14 Werner Gruenwald Gas absorption reservoir with optimized cooling
US20140138452A1 (en) * 2012-11-20 2014-05-22 GM Global Technology Operations LLC System And Method For Heating The Passenger Compartment Of A Fuell Cell-Powered Vehicle

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